Friday, March 29, 2013

Author Sneed B. Collard, III

Sneed B. Collard's Pocket Babies: And Other Amazing Marsupials is one of the most popular books in my school library's 500s section. My kids are big fans of his books. Sneed dropped by Watch. Connect. Read to discuss his books, school visits, reading, and writing. I wrote the words in red, and he wrote the words in black. Thank you, Sneed!


My nonfiction books were a surprise! When I decided to become a writer, I thought I would travel a straight path to becoming a novelist—this, despite having just graduated with a degree in marine biology. It took a couple of years for me to think “Hm, maybe I should give science writing a try.” And, of course, that door swung open so quickly that I spent the next ten years or so focusing almost exclusively on nonfiction. It was time well-spent. Writing books such as Monteverde—Science and Scientists a Costa Rican Cloud Forest not only established me as an author, but allowed me to see the world and gave me a huge amount of material for later nonfiction and fiction books.

I research all the time! I am one of those people who are interested in almost everything. Writing offers me an opportunity to learn about all kinds of things from science to history, rodeo to coin collecting. One reason for my early writing success was my preference for going out and seeing things for myself. I use many library research tools, but what really gets my adrenaline pumping is meeting people for myself, observing what they do, and experiencing the world first-hand. This first-hand experience helps bring my writing to life—and, I think, resonates with readers.

Double Eagle and Cartwheel are my own fantasies come to life. What child doesn’t dream of finding hidden treasure? I know that I did—and still do! Double Eagle sprouted from an experience I had sneaking into Fort Gaines, Alabama with a friend back in 1973. I always wanted to incorporate that incident into a novel, but it took thirty years before I hit on the idea of having two boys discover a priceless gold coin inside a similar fort. To my surprise, the story attracted readers of all ages, and many of them clamored for a sequel. I steadfastly refused—until another irresistible idea landed in my lap, the story of the 1964-D Peace dollar.

Unlike the gold piece in Double Eagle, Cartwheel revolves around a coin that really did exist. In May, 1965, the Mint produced more than a quarter million new silver dollars, all dated 1964. When Congress found out, they were furious and ordered all the coins melted down. Rumors persist to this day, however, that some of the coins survived. The problem is that if you have one, it is illegal to own, so any sales have to be strictly on the QT. “Ah-ha!” I thought, when I learned the story. “I have got to reunite Mike and Kyle to look for one of these things.” I decided, though, to up the ante for the characters.
Cartwheel picks up two years after Double Eagle ends, when Kyle unexpectedly shows up on Mike’s doorstep in a souped-up ’57 Chevy Bel-Air with a big block engine. “I’m goin’ up to Birmingham to see my sister Annie,” Kyle tells Mike. “You want to come along?”

“Sure,” says Mike. What he doesn’t know is that Kyle isn’t going to see Annie. He’s going to rescue her from their abusive aunt and uncle. What follows is a cross-country flight from the law that lands Mike, Kyle, and Annie in Denver, Colorado. One of the trio’s big problems is money. To get somewhere safe, Kyle and Annie need to raise cash, and fast. Mike comes up with the idea of searching for a 1964-D Peace dollar. As far-fetched as the idea seems at first, the trio’s efforts eventually give them a solid lead on one of the priceless coins.
Of course people who have already read the story are now clamoring for a third book! It’s a nice problem to have.

My school presentations focus on the wonder of learning, literature, storytelling, and adventure. I keep about five presentations in active rotation, most geared toward specific age levels. In one grade 3-6 presentation, I take kids to the deep-sea floor in a submersible to learn about bioluminescent animals. Along the way, they learn how to do research and get writing ideas without using the internet. In another grade 4-adult talk, I follow my own writer’s journey, showing people how my own events and interests led to the books that I write. I also give the inside background on my most recent books such as Cartwheel and Hangman’s Gold. Other talks focus on tropical forests and reptiles. I frequently speak to all age levels from kindergarten up through college. Recently, I debuted a new teacher workshop, “Common Core Canines”, that focuses on using dog books to achieve Common Core standards.


I teach writing workshops to motivated youngsters and adults, grades 4 and up. In one-hour workshops, I tackle active voice and “show don’t tell”. In longer workshops, I pull out a variety of implements from my writer’s tool box.

The best thing about visiting schools is the kids. Whether I am in a country school in Wyoming or a large suburban school in Virginia, I am always delighted by the passion and enthusiasm children have for books, writing, and living. These visits continually renew my hope for the planet and my motivation for writing the next book.


Reading is the best thing you can do for your brain. Even reading a really awful book stimulates ideas and thought-processes that no video game or movie can duplicate. I credit the hundreds of books I read as a child with turning me into person I am today, and I can’t imagine being able to make sense of the world without the books I have under my belt. Of course, reading showers many other benefits on readers, from simple enjoyment to understanding life’s journey to, yes, being able to string two sentences together in a meaningful fashion.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my YouTube channel and my current book projects. My son and I recently decided to become our own movie producers, and have started creating book trailers for my mystery-thrillers. The thing is, we’re locked in fierce competition. My son thinks his trailers are better than mine. I heartily disagree! Only the number of Likes and Views will tell the tale, so all you readers, watch the trailers and cast your votes!

We’ll continue to add trailers, especially for new projects as they come out. Currently, I’m working on two new mysteries, for instance, as well as Sneed B. Collard III’s Most Fun Book Ever About Insects, which should be out next year. Also be sure to like Bucking Horse Books on FaceBook and look up the websites www.buckinghorsebooks.com and www.sneedbcollardiii.com




I am giving away a copy of Double Eagle and a copy of Cartwheel


Rules for the Giveaway
1. It will run from 3/29 to 11:59 P.M. on 4/1.
2. You must be at least 13.
3. Please pay it forward. 


Borrow Sneed B. Collard's books from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

1 comment:

  1. It's great to be visiting with you this morning! Feel free to shoot me any questions. I'll answer them if they don't embarrass me too much!

    ReplyDelete